St. John’s Well Child and Family Center

Breaking Down the Barriers to Care

Immigrants with limited English language proficiency often face significant barriers to accessing information and services. When a crisis such as domestic violence (DV) occurs within an immigrant family, these barriers can mean isolation for DV survivors who may not know where to turn. A new pilot project by St. John’s Well Child and Family Center is aiming to end this isolation by integrating domestic violence screening and referrals into the community health center environment.

St. John’s, a network of ten South Los Angeles community and school-based health centers, serves a multi-ethnic population with immigrants accounting for forty percent of its clientele. Its mission is to eliminate health disparities and foster community well-being by providing and promoting the highest quality care. To deliver on this mission, the organization often looks outside its own walls for solutions, forming community partnerships that address many of the environmental and social determinants of health.

This project is critical to increasing self-identification of domestic violence among our patients, in a setting where medical and mental health services are housed under the same roof.

— Dr. Farid Hassanpour, Chief Medical Officer, St. John's Well Child and Family Center

Recently, St. Johns formed a partnership with the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) School of Public Health to improve the rates of domestic violence reporting and treatment within the immigrant populations of Los Angeles County. The two organizations are working together to develop and pilot a video-based screening and referral system that will identify and help coordinate services for DV survivors, specifically those with low English language proficiency, in up to five of St. John’s community health centers.

During the program’s pilot implementation phase, female patients over the age of 15 will be shown a web-based video (in one of ten languages) to help them self-identify whether or not they have been a victim of domestic violence. The video will educate viewers about their rights, alert them to available services, and encourage them to tell their health care provider if they believe they are a victim. Also as part of this program, providers will receive training and have access to an on-call phone translation service to help them clarify a patient's situation and better explain the referral process.

“This project is critical to increasing self-identification of domestic violence among our patients, in a setting where medical and mental health services are housed under the same roof,” said St. John’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Farid Hassanpour. “We are confident that it will strengthen our ability to effectively respond and connect patients to the services they so urgently need – both within our clinical practice and at other community-based organizations with which we partner.”

A pilot phase of the program will begin in late 2013 and evaluation will conclude in early 2014. If it is successful in identifying and linking immigrant DV survivors to services, it could potentially expand to other health centers throughout California.